Injury Risks: Side effects include loss of fantasy titles

If I had been living in a cave in Kabul the past few years and just returned to the states, a couple of things would blow me away: first, that Seether, for some inexplicable reason did a re-make of “Careless Whisper”, and also that Gilbert Arenas is nowhere to be found in anyone’s top three rounds in preseason rankings.

While the George Michael track should rank with “Kung Fu Fighting” in combating Darwinian Theory, it never made any sense to me to undervalue players coming off of injuries if they were deemed 100 percent healthy.

One could easily point to Arenas, who I don’t think has seen daylight since the Carter administration, as a shining example of why owners shouldn’t gamble on guys coming off of major surgery. But with that said, you’re much more likely to find an absolute steal (see: Ming, Yao 2008-09; ed. note: or Yao, Ming 2008-09) by taking this kind of risk.

While Arenas is the obvious impact guy who could be had after round three or four, there are several players whom the nailbiters in your league will be too panic-stricken to corral. Let’s see if any of the others will be worth the while.

Elton BrandElton Brand, PHI
Age: 30
Injury: Shoulder and Achilles

Brand has appeared in a lowly 37 games over the past two seasons as he has been beset by shoulder and achilles issues. The Sixers were actually better without him last season, but that is probably an aberration. This grizzly bear masquerading as a man is a team-first kind of guy. He may no longer be a 20 and 10 threat with 2.0 blocks, but he could still flirt with some pretty machismo numbers. He’s only 30 and apparently healthy, and will do whatever it takes to fit in with Andre Iguodala and the rest of the crew. Find him in the late fourth or early fifth round and don’t look back. If he qualifies at center in your league, move him up 10-15 spots.

Al Jefferson, MIN
Age: 24
Injury: knee surgery

Big Al provided first-round value for his giddy owners last year before he was shelved in February with a knee injury. As of this writing, he claims he is 90 percent healthy following surgery and will be 100 percent come November. This is one of very few low-post threats the league has to offer, and despite myriad perimeter options on the T’Wolves, he is still their go-to man. He may have trouble duplicating his gargantuan ’08-09 totals (23.1 ppg, 11.0 rpg, 1.7 bpg), but he could come close. If he qualifies at center and falls to the second round, jump on him like white on rice.

Michael Redd, MIL
Age: 30
Injury: knee surgery

Though only 30, Redd’s days as a 25-point scorer are most likely over. A knee injury derailed his ’08-09 campaign, but he looks to be back in form following surgery. The Bucks will not be a good team and Redd will again be anointed their top perimeter option, but 20 ppg and decent peripherals is about all we can ask from the southpaw sharpshooter. If he’s available after the sixth round that wouldn’t be a bad spot to pounce.

Tracy McGrady, HOU
Age: 30
Injury: microfracture knee surgery

McGrady should invest in a pair of oven mitts because he has injured just about every part of his body the past few years except for his hands. He is coming off of the dreaded microfracture surgery on his left knee, not good for Twister participants or for a player who relies on quickness and leaping ability. But the one thing you can always say about McGrady from a fantasy perpspective is that as long as he is on the court, he will figure out a way to get his. There have even been some rumblings that he’ll be back in uniform as early as December. Tough to say what round he belongs, but if he’s available in the ninth, or after you already take a starting lineup, it could pay serious dividends.

Manu Ginobili, SAS
Age: 32
Injury: ankles

Ginobili was a shell of his former phenomenal self last season, while appearing in only 44 games with two balky ankles. Whether he is starting or coming off the bench the shifty Argentinean is a terrific all-around player who provides relief in most categories. Look for his minutes to be in the 25-30 per game range, so don’t be overly bullish. He is supposedly healthy. If he is moving well in the preseason, he should be drafted no lower than the eighth round, but remember: the Spurs have Richard Jefferson now, and combined with a serviceable Roger Mason, might not be so inclined to rush Ginobili into heavy rotation.

Kevin Garnett, BOS
Age: 33
Injury: surgery for bone spurs

With his transition to Boston two years ago, Garnett re-invented himself as the selfless teammate, the one who will do whatever it takes for the betterment of the team; and except for the fact that he missed most of the final two months of the regular season and all of the playoffs with bone spurs in both knees, his philosophy has worked to perfection. While his numbers and minutes have been way down since he left Minnesota, he still supplies plenty of points (15.8), rebounds (8.5), steals (1.1) and blocks (1.2) to make him a solid third or fourth rounder… but certainly no higher than that.


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